2014 Toyota Tacoma

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Have you noticed? Mid-sized trucks are getting pretty scarce.2014 Tacoma lead

Dodge dropped the Dakota. GM has put the kibosh – for the moment, at least – on the Chevy Colorado (and its GMC twin, the Canyon).

Ford – like GM, like Chrysler (through its Ram spin-off) only sells 1500-series and larger trucks these days.

That leaves The Two: Nissan’s Frontier and the Toyota Tacoma, subject of this write-up.

They’re similar – but also different in a few key areas. They may also be on the Endangered Species List – but we’ll talk about that later.

WHAT IT IS2014 Tacoma fold down

The Tacoma is a mid-sized pick-up, one notch down from the Tundra in dimensions and capability. It’s available in three cab styles: two-door (and short wheelbase) regular cab and four-door Access and Double cab (long – and longer wheelbase) with your choice of five foot or six-foot beds and four or six cylinders under the hood.

Base price for a short wheelbase regular cab with 2.7 liter four cylinder engine, manual transmission and 2WD is $17,875. A four-wheel-drive Double Cab (four full-sized doors) with four-wheel-drive and the optional 4.0 liter V-6 engine starts at $26,905.2014 Tacoma regular cab

The Tacoma’s sole direct competition at the moment is the Nissan Frontier, which starts at $17,990 for a 2WD King Cab and runs to $30,590 for a 4WD SL Crew Cab with V-6.

WHAT’S NEW

For 2014, the Tacoma offers the latest version of Toyota’s Entune suit of apps – available with Yelp and Facebook Places in addition to Pandora radio.2014 entune pic

The sporty-themed X-Runner package has been dropped, but a new SR package takes its place. It includes contrast color fender flares, fog lights and black-anodized 16 inch “Baja” wheels. The Limited package introduced last year – which includes easy-clean SofTex leather seating and a pair of high-performance seat heaters – is also available.

WHAT’S GOOD

More cab/bed options to choose from than Frontier – which is not currently offered in short-wheelbase (and shorter overall) two-door/regular cab form.

Toyota lets you buy 4WD with the four-cylinder engine – Nissan requires you buy the V-6 to get 4WD.

Tacoma comes with more standard equipment, including AC and a limited-slip axle. These are extra cost on the Frontier.

Simple, sturdy, functional. No over-elaborate techno-crap.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD2014 Tacoma interior shot

Dated-for-2014 four-speed automatic (paired with four-cylinder engine; the V-6 gets a more up-to-date five-speed automatic as its optional gearbox).

Traction control that doesn’t want to let you decide when it ought to be on – or off.

Gas mileage with the optional V-6 is not much better than you’d get in a larger, more useful full-sized truck – including some with a V-8. (The same goes for the Frontier, by the way.)

UNDER THE HOOD2014 Tacoma 2.7 liter engine

The Tacoma’s standard engine is a 2.7 liter four with Toyota’s variable valve timing and lift (VVTi) system that makes a rated 159 hp – just slightly stronger than the Frontier’s standard (and smaller) 2.5 liter, 152 hp four. The larger-displacement Tacoma engine makes a bit more torque, too – and more importantly, makes it a lot lower in the RPM scale: 180 ft.-lbs. at 3,800 RPM vs. 171 ft.-lbs. at 4,400 RPM. In a truck especially – where bottom-end grunt is what you’re after – this is a significant advantage.

Score a point for the Tacoma.

The Tacoma four’s higher hp (and more readily accessed torque) may be why Toyota offers this engine with 4WD – whereas all four-cylinder Frontiers are RWD only.

Score another point for the Toyota.2014 manual pic

You can choose either the standard five-speed manual transmission to go with the 2.7 liter engine or – optionally – a four-speed automatic. This transmission is a bit dated relative to the five speed automatic available in the Frontier (and most everything else these days) but nonetheless, the 2.7 liter Tacoma manages to beat the 2.5 liter Frontier on fuel economy: 19 city, 24 highway vs. 17 city, 22 highway for the 2WD Frontier. With the five-speed manual, the 2WD Tacoma rates 21 city, 25 highway – vs. the 2WD/five-speed Frontier’s 19 city, 23 highway.2014 Tacoma V-6

Both trucks offer an upgrade V-6, available with either a six-speed manual or a five speed automatic.

Both V-6s are the same size (4.0 liters) too.

This time, however, the Frontier is a bit stronger: 261 hp and 281 ft.-lbs. of torque vs. 236 hp and 266 ft.-lbs. of torque.

But – ace in the hole – the Toyota is a comparative lightweight. Just 3,335 lbs. at the curb for the base 2WD regular cab model vs. 3,708 lbs. for the Nissan King cab 2WD.

Thus, despite its V-6 being a bit less powerful, the Tacoma is nonetheless the quicker truck: Zero to 60 in about 7.5 seconds (2WD, manual transmission) vs. about 8 seconds flat for the 2WD V-6 Frontier with manual transmission.2014 console 2

Why the weight disparity? Remember: The Tacoma is available in a short wheelbase regular cab (two-door) layout while Nissan only sells the Frontier in the larger, longer wheelbase – and thus, heavier – four-door (King and Crew cab) layout.

Though both the Tacoma and the Frontier are technically mid-sized, the regular cab version of the Tacoma is more than a foot shorter overall than the Frontier King cab and so, is closer to a compact-sized truck’s dimensions and weight.gas hog pic

That said, don’t look to either the Tacoma or the Frontier as end-runs around ExxonMobil. At least, not when equipped with their optional V-6 engines.

The V-6 RWD Tacoma with the more fuel-efficient five-speed automatic only manages 17 city, 21 highway; with 4WD that dips to 16 city, 21 highway. Manual-equipped models are worse. Meanwhile, a regular cab Ford F-150 with a 302 hp, 3.7 liter V-6 rates 17 city, 23 highway with RWD – and 16 city, 21 highway with 4WD.

Dead heat.

To be fair, the V-6 Frontier is even thirstier: just 15 city, 20 highway with RWD and 14 city, 19 with 4WD – on par with the V-8s currently available in full-size/1500-series pickups.2014 Tacoma pull

Bottoms up!

Both trucks have identical tow ratings with either engine: 3,500 lbs. max with the four and 6,500 lbs. when ordered with the V-6. This is a nice split-the-difference between a two-weak car or crossover (1,500-3,500 lbs. max being the usual) and a too-much/too-big full-size truck.

ON THE ROAD2014 Tacoma road 1

On smooth paved roads, the Tacoma’s body-on-frame construction very effectively dissipates and mutes the outside world. It has that reassuring heavy-solid feel that you get only with a full-frame layout.

But on washboard gravel roads, axle hop can be pretty severe if you’re trying to operate at a pretty decent clip (the Tacoma’s rear wheels hang off leaf springs bolted to a solid axle; they cannot articulate independently). You can drive a unibody, car-based FWD/AWD crossover like the Mitsubishi Outlander I recently reviewed (see here) much faster on a bad gravel road without it feeling like the thing is shaking itself to pieces. But on the other hand, if you have to deal with more than just gravel . . .  then a real-deal truck like the Tacoma will go places something like the Outlander ought not to even think about.  2014 Tacoma rocks

On-road handling is surprisingly good for a vehicle with a leaf-sprung, solid axle rear, 8.1 inches of ground clearance (more than the Frontier’s 7.6 inches) and tires not exactly made for autocrossing.

The regular cab/short wheelbase Tacoma (109.6 inches vs. 125.9 for the Frontier King Cab) also feels more agile – and is without question easier to park/maneuver.

Don’t forget you’re driving a truck, though.P1060713

And remember that truck-type 4WD is not a handling enhancement. It is a traction-enhancer that’s supposed to be engaged only when there’s snow on the pavement – or when you’re off the pavement and in the grass or dirt or mud. Otherwise, you risk damaging the system and minimally, will wear it (and the tires) out more rapidly.

Either engine in either truck is more fun with the available manual transmission – especially the six-speeds that come with the sixxes. But the Nissan has the edge when it comes to the automatics. The more modern five-speed that comes with either Frontier engine trumps the functional but out-of-date four-speed automatic you get in the base four-cylinder Tacoma.2014 reg. cab of road

The head-scratcher is why Toyota doesn’t offer a five-speed automatic with its four – given the probable fuel-economy advantage this would confer. If the 2.7 liter Tacoma with the four-speed is as or slightly more fuel-efficient than the 2.5 liter Frontier with the five-speed, I think it’s a good bet that the 2.7 liter Tacoma with a modern five-speed automatic would be significantly more fuel-efficient than the 2.5 liter Frontier. And that would be a big selling point these days – as well as a big help, CAFE-wise.

Go figure.

AT THE CURB2014 Tacoma curb 1

While the Frontier only comes in four door cab form (two full-size doors and two rear-hinged mini doors or four full-sized doors) the Tacoma can be ordered in regular (two-door) and Access (two full-size, two rear-hinged mini doors) and Double Cab (four full-size doors) cab styles. Wheelbase length also varies from the regular cab’s almost-compact-sized 109.6 inches to 140.6 inches for a Double Cab long bed.

All beds come with an integrated/moveable tie-down system. There are built in storage cubbies- and an available 400 watt inverter – just the ticket for tailgating parties. You can also order a drop-down step ladder – though accessing the Tacoma’s bed is not difficult for normal-sized adults.

Big item: The Tacoma comes standard with AC – an extra cost option (you have to buy the S Preferred Package) in the Frontier. Toyota also gives you a standard limited slip axle, a composite plastic bed liner, 6.1 inch LCD display, a decent four-speaker stereo with CD player and Bluetooth wireless capability, USB hook-up and a tilt-telescoping wheel.2014 Tacoma rails

Here again, many of these items  – such as a CD-playing stereo – are not included in the base trim Frontier.

Toyota also offers more in the way of available equipment – both factory and dealer add-on.

For example, you can order a Toyota Racing Development (TRD) high-performance cat-back exhaust system for the V-6 (with the T/X and T/X Pro off-road equipment) and if you’re really serious about off-roading, there’s a Baja package that includes bead-lock wheels with mondo BF Goodrich TA KO tires in LT265/70-16 sizes, 60 mm Bilstein off-road shocks and the suspension rejiggered for an extra 1-1.5 inches of wheel travel. 2014 Tacoma Baja

And Nissan hasn’t got anything comparable to the Tacoma’s Entune suit of apps (seven of them, including Facebook Places, Yelp, Bing, MovieTickets.com, Open Table and Pandora radio capability).

Nissan offers just Pandora.

Overall, the Tacoma is simply the nicer, more versatile – and better-equipped – truck.2014 Tacoma red reg cab.

It’s also the more authentically mid-sized truck – at least, in regular cab form.

The two-door Tacoma is more than a foot shorter overall than the Frontier King cab: 190.4 inches vs. 205.5 inches. That’s a difference of 15.1 inches. Or, from an other perspective, the Frontier King Cab is only 7.7 inches shorter overall than a regular cab 1500 series F-150 full-size truck. The regular cab Tacoma is almost two feet shorter (22.8 inches) than an F-150.

That’s no small difference.2014 red front profile

I own two of the old model (1998-2002) compact-sized Frontier – and I miss compact-sized trucks. The current Frontier King Cab is so close to full-sized it might as well be full-sized. The Tacoma regular cab, though still larger than a compact like my ’98 and ’02 Frontiers, isn’t too large. It doesn’t eat up most of the available real estate in the garage – and it’s easier to park on the street, too. Also, if you’re an off-roader, you’ll appreciate the abbreviated dimensions.

The Frontier is a very capable truck, but in the woods – and on narrow trails with little to no room to maneuver – smaller can be better.

It’s nice that Toyota still offers the regular cab layout – and a reasonable-sized pick-up.

THE REST2014 tacoma spalsh

Never forget: It’s a truck.

Not a car.

Not a “crossover.”

You are dealing with a vehicle built on a ladder-type frame made of heavy steel girders, with the body bolted on top of that (rubber biscuits in between). A solid axle hangs from leaf springs out back.P1060714

Beefy coil springs up front.

This is not necessarily bad – just different. Horses for courses. The Tacoma is built to be able to do things a car (and car-based “trucks” like the Honda Ridgeline) can’t do – or shouldn’t try to do. Like jerk a stump out of the ground or drag a fallen tree that weighs a few thousand pounds out of the woods using a chain around the trunk with the other end hooked to the truck’s frame hard points. Do not do this with a crossover. stump pull pic

Please.

It is almost impossible to hurt a solid rear axle – because there’s not much to hurt. There’s a massive metal casting shackled with U-bolts to heavy-duty leaf springs. Other than the shocks, which you’ll have to replace every now and then, the bed will probably rust off before the rear axle or the leafs give you any trouble. Change the lube every few years, maybe grease the bearings; that’s pretty much it.

The front end is almost as tough. Put the transfer case in 4WD Low and (gently now) nudge a leaning stone retaining wall back into place. You won’t hurt nothin’!

Well, probably not.P1060712

Or, pull the front end sheetmetal back into shape after taking out a deer at 60 MPH with a come-along, a sturdy tree – and 4WD Low in reverse.

That’s the sort of stuff you can do with a truck – and which you’d be well-advised not to try doing with a car, or a car-based vehicle.

I laud the Tacoma’s superb seat heaters (included with the Limited package) which get hot enough that you sometimes need to turn them down. That’s exactly what you want when it gets cold outside. If the heaters barely get warm in the summer, they’re not gonna do much for you in the winter.P1060715

I also love the location of the oil filter (V-6) models which is mounted on top of the engine, off to the right – where it is readily hand-accessible. Toyota thoughtfully designed the mount to be mess-free, too. It’s got a drain hole and everything.

I jeer the Tacoma’s (all current Toyota’s) traction control system, which can’t be turned off unless you first slow to at least 25 MPH – and which turns itself back on automatically once you’re over 40 MPH – whether you want it on or not. Most people who buy trucks know how to drive.P1060711

Leave the always-on (or comes back on) traction control to the powderpuff crossover league.

The last item isn’t Toyota’s fault, but bears mentioning. The rear seat headrests (mandated by the federal government) are so damn huge and tall they obscure rearward visibility to a dangerous extent. Your backseat riders may be less likely to get whiplash in the event someone rear-ends your truck. But you’re  also more likely to wreck your truck because you can’t see a got-damned thing behind you.

Luckily, you can pop them out.2014 Tacoma last

THE BOTTOM LINE

There are fewer choices these days in the mid-sized truck category, but Toyota gives you more options – and a better deal for your dollar.

Throw it in the Woods?

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  34 comments for “2014 Toyota Tacoma

  1. harryp
    November 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

    eric,
    nice writeup, have always liked tacomas for their simplicity and toughness. i was looking for a tacoma a few years back. wanted a v6 manual but ended up with a tundra.
    i ended up getting it used for a price less than i could find a similar aged and mileage tacoma. at the time gas prices had spiked and a dealership had 1/2 dozen of the tundras and i bought it for less than the kbb price is for it even today, 3 years later. it’s a little more truck than i wanted but has come in handy when hauling things (allows me to pull a 2 car trailer instead of a 1).
    my 5.7 v8 with a 6-spd auto gets mileage #’s comparable to what a tacoma would get and i like having the reserve engine capacity and space in a purposeful vehicle i drive sparingly.

    not sure toyota would get rid of the tacoma, it makes them too much money, i’ve been told that the margins they make on tacomas goes into R&D for the prius.

    • eric
      November 5, 2013 at 9:15 am

      Thanks, Harry!

      I keep hoping the compact truck will make a comeback… ideally, with a diesel engine and minimal BS.

      • harry p.
        November 5, 2013 at 10:57 am

        a turbo diesel straight six in a tacoma with no TC, power windows/locks and other gizmos.

        that would probably be the first and only brand new vehicle i would ever buy.

      • skunkbear
        November 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm

        Eric, I too would like to see a truck of any size with none of the bells and whistles except A/C and a good radio. Diesel would be my first choice as well but this blue def crap is just that: crap. And a truck without a manual tranny is an abomination. The more gears the better.

        And check me if I am wrong but were not Nissan (Datson) and Toyota the original compact pickups with the Big Three following in their popularity?

        • Bevin
          November 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm

          Dear SB,

          I second, no, third that.

          Much of the modern sophistication is superfluous.

          If low tech is significantly more reliable and economical than high tech, I say go with the low tech. I say low tech is high enough.

          Ladder frames. Front engines. Manual transmissions. Driveshafts. Live axles.

          Simpler, more bulletproof than front drive engines with complex transaxles.

          Bottom line as always is, “Will it dependably get you from Point A to Point B?” When you turn that key, will it fire up?

  2. Giuseppe Crowe
    November 5, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Eric, et al,

    I’m still driving the 4 cylinder Tacoma I bought new in the summer of 2002. It’s been my main vehicle for 11.5 years. Purring along like a top. I don’t see any reason to rid myself of it. It’s mostly easy to work on and though a bit underpowered in the foothills where I live, I’m mostly driving faster than most clover traffic anyway. That said, I don’t see any reason to buy anything newer than a 2007 vehicle. As long as I can get parts for the Tacoma, a newer vehicle makes no sense. Disclaimer: I detest consumer goods that are not repairable. The trend, mostly with Chinese made shit, is to simply deliver cheap crap that breaks almost immediately and cannot be repaired. Leave me out of that equation. Another trend I detest in vehicles is the power-everything (windows, door locks, seat adjustment) and the trend of giving more and more control to the electronic systems. It seems that more powerful automotive CPUs are solutions seeking problems. Using electronics to control ignition for best power/timing/fuel efficiency was a good trend. Putting GPS/locating mechanisms, speed/acceleration governor functions etc., IMO, in the electronics is a major fail. Anyway, I actually might like to score a 1967 Beetle for a beater car…I had one in grad school and foolishly sold it for $200.

    • eric
      November 5, 2013 at 11:28 am

      I’m in total agreement, Giusseppe.

      Both my older Frontiers are like your ’02 Tacoma – basic, easy to work on and still going strong.

      When the time comes to replace them, I think I’ll also be looking for something circa pre-2007 (or older!)

    • swamprat
      November 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. I think that power windows are a waste. Same goes for power locks and power seats. I detest all of the trends towards integration of engine management and location functions. (ie onstar and other things… whether they are fully integrated, I don’t know yet).

      I detest anything made in China, although I am typing on a keyboard and on an apple assembled there. What can you do?

      I’m glad that this made in china product has lasted me more than 5 years so far without a problem (except for the CD ROM drive).

      • eric
        November 6, 2013 at 7:06 am

        Ditto, Swamp.

        Finding any new vehicle with manual roll-up windows is becoming as hard as finding any consumer good not made in China.

        • Eightsouthman
          November 6, 2013 at 10:47 am

          I don’t have a problem with electric windows. Red Dog, the 3/4 4WD Chevy has them and all the whistles and bells, never had a problem and that truck has been through holy hell, enough dirt and mud in the tracks to stop a manual window. Back when it used to rain, it wasn’t uncommon to see any of our trucks with so much mud you could only see glass or paint where the windshield wipers cleared. In fact, I had two other big pickups with manual windows and had plenty problems of breaking crank handles and even some track problems. I have had some vehicles for decades that have all original parts in the electric windows and door locks. Carrying a dog all the time, I wouldn’t have anything else.

      • me
        November 11, 2013 at 5:48 pm

        Problem is, if they have manual windows, they put the cranks practically on the floor, and or where they hit anything in the door pockets..

  3. mike
    November 5, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    Until two years ago -I had a 1998 Tacoma 4X4 – Off Rd Package. When I traded it in for another Tacoma (2010 extended cab 4×4) it had 270,000 miles and wasstill going strong. The newer Tacoma I have is nice but seems a little less tough than my 98. It also has had some transmission problems – despite having less than 10,000 miles on it when I bought it.

    • eric
      November 6, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Hi Mike,

      Did you buy the ’10 Tacoma new? Is the transmission manual – or automatic?

      • mike
        November 8, 2013 at 8:43 pm

        I bought the truck used from a large Toyota dealership. I gave up the Certified Used guarantee in exchange for getting the truck for no more than $ 20,000. Currently it has less than 50,000 miles so, I am thinking of bringing it in to see if the transmission is covered under Toyota’s power train warranty.

        • eric
          November 9, 2013 at 6:47 am

          Hi Mike,

          If there’s a problem with the transmission, my bet is it’s the result of abuse or neglect (same things, really). The previous owner may have done something along the lines of a person I know (who shall remain nameless in the interests of shielding them from endless laughter at their expense) who, while riding shotgun in an automatic-equipped truck, managed to inadvertently shove the console shifter from D to R while the truck was moving… .

          On the warranty: IIRC, the factory Toyota powertrain warranty is only three years/36,000 miles…

          Fingers crossed for you, amigo…

          • mike
            November 9, 2013 at 10:06 am

            Shit…mileage is now at 48,000 …looks like at some point I will be buying a new transmission. That sucks!

          • eric
            November 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

            Let’s hope it’s not a major issue. It could be an electronic glitch…

          • Eightsouthman
            November 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm

            eric, I was speaking to my wife of the time we made it from Sweetwater, Tx. to Wills Point in something like 3 hours, stopped all that trash talk my buddies were giving us when we called from west Tx. She said I just remember the time you were cussing the gray car on the CB. We were on I-20 once again going to meet her sister and BIL at Thurber and I came on this gray car just west of Cisco doing 55 and notice he’s got a CB so I get on the radio and tell hm to get his ass over(he was blocking traffic, typical), told him those bright lights you see are going to run your ass off the road if you don’t comply(I was sorta radical back then)so the car moves over. I had slowed down, probably only closing on it at 60 mph, got back into it and was wailing when I passed. It was a county mounty for that county. I nearly shit, pulled off at a big truck stop there and went out behind about 50 big rigs, parked between two big boxes and waited, walked across the street, got some beer and sat there. We finally left and although we had intended just to meet my SIL and husband, turn around and go back, we followed them back to Duncanville and spent the night. Never said I was smart, just determined. I just fleshed out a strawman for MFW.

      • Mike
        November 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm

        Also its an automatic.

        • Eightsouthman
          November 9, 2013 at 11:24 am

          Mike, mike, what sort of problem is it?

  4. swamprat
    November 5, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I like the base price of this rig. I hate the gas mileage, though. I’m sure that they could do better than that.

    Do you get the sense that these rigs are easy to work on? I’ve never been a truck guy, but I can see their usefulness.

    • eric
      November 6, 2013 at 7:14 am

      I like that it’s available in relatively simple form – regular cab/four-cylinder/four-wheel-drive. I just wish it were a true compact-sized truck like my older Frontiers.

      The four looks easy to work on in terms of access. The engine compartment was designed to accommodate a V-6, so there is lots of room around the four (which is mounted longitudinally, of course). However, I wonder about down-the-road repairs, especially as regards the variable valve timing system. Not sure, also, whether this engine has a timing belt. The four in my Frontier does not have variable valve/cam timing – or a timing belt.

  5. mikehell
    November 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

    The mid-size truck may be dying but the micro-truck is dead and buried, at least in the good ole USSA. Do you think that there’s no micros sold here because they look too “third world”? It’s a puzzle to me because I see lots of uses for a small rig that can haul lots of stuff.

    • eric
      November 6, 2013 at 9:46 am

      Hi Mike,

      I’m not sure what accounts for the death of the compact truck in the USSA – since they were once (and recently) very popular. But I have some theories:

      * Not enough profit margin.
      * The Ameruuhhkan obsession with bigness. Big houses. Big SUVs. Big trucks….

      • Eightsouthman
        November 6, 2013 at 10:37 am

        eric, my 84 1/2 Nissan 4WD did a lot of things well although the bed and sheetmetal were sub-standard, too thin. The main problem I had was 16 mpg with large tires although it never got over 18 with the originals. It was dandy for two occupants and a pit bull. It’s lack of power got old but a friend had an ’86 Toy that was FI and it was noticeably more powerful and got much better mileage. The Nissan was short bed so it would really go places in the pasture but nobody ever made a limited slip axle for it, a definite drawback. I kept two sets of tires and wheels, one strictly for mud but we haven’t needed mud tires in 20 years. I’d like to have another similar truck or something the same size as the original Bronco. Nothing like that in the US now.

      • mikehell
        November 7, 2013 at 10:52 am

        Eric,
        With the increased demand for small econo cars pickups might follow suit. Would love to see a compact diesel pickup in the showrooms. It’s already the workhorse elsewhere in the world.

        • Eightsouthman
          November 7, 2013 at 11:19 am

          mikehell, make mine a ’75 diesel LUV. Now that’s basic transportation. Back in those days you could buy one foot squares of stick-on carpet, great for sound deadening, just wipe the metal down with some paint thinner, slap it on and it cut down the “ring” of those all steel interiors. No need for a radio with mudgrips and the diesel. They’d make a track in muck nothing else could follow.

  6. MikePizzo
    November 6, 2013 at 11:23 am

    We bought a new 2006 Taco. 4 door, loaded, V-6, auto. TRD Offroad package. It has been the most trouble free car we have ever owned. We maintain it zealously. Not one problem yet.

    A few observations. It’s a fairly large “mid sized” truck. Yet, for about 90% of what most truck owners really use, its size is “just right.”

    With the TRD Offroad Package, off road function is pretty phenomenal.We don’t do any rock hopping. But for rough “no roading” and mud running, it has got us through places that amazed me.

    MPG is neither really good or really bad. It’s mostly my wife’s truck. She is a feather foot, and drives 60/40 freeway/city streets. She averages 19.5 mpg. I’m not a feather foot, and drive 50/50 freeway/street. I get 16 mpg.

  7. chiph
    November 6, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    2014 will be the last year for the Ridgeline. Honda says it may return as a 2016 or 2017 model.

    I liked mine, but I have to admit that 8 years without any significant updates meant it was overdue for retirement.

    • eric
      November 7, 2013 at 7:50 am

      Yeah, I caught that. Sad.

      The chief flaw – in my opinion – was the poor gas mileage. Were I Honda, I’d have looked into a hybrid or diesel powertrain.

      • chiph
        November 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm

        Honda had a V6 turbo diesel under development, but Ito (CEO) caused it to be cancelled because it would have needed DEF urea fluid.

        BTW, drove the Mercedes GLK Bluetec over the weekend. Liked it a lot.

  8. Lance Ripplinger
    November 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Great article Eric! It is sad to see that the compact pickup segment has died in the U.S. I grew up around Ford Rangers, and am a proud owner of a 2004 XLT Super Cab. I like it because it is a real truck. Manual windows, locks and doors. Less stuff to break down. I like the simplicity. The 4.0 SOHC V6 doesn’t get mpg any better than the Tacoma V6 naturally, and its crazy that F-150′s and such can get better mpg being how ridiculously behemoth in size they are. Oh well. Compact trucks were from another era. I intend to keep my Ranger until her last dying breath. :)

    • eric
      November 8, 2013 at 6:45 am

      Thanks, Lance – and, ditto on the small trucks thing.

      I pray my ’98 and ’02 Frontiers last forever….

  9. Debby
    April 15, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Okay, I’m probably the only GIRL posting on here. But I have a 1997 5-spd single cab Tacoma and LOVE it. I live in NYC and it’s hard to park a huge truck on the street. I have two kayaks and it is perfect for hauling them and other sports stuff. The stuff isn’t heavy, so I don’t need a heavy suspension truck, which burns more gas.

    My truck runs great but is rusting. I want a 2014, but it seems like I either have to spend $18,000 or $30,000, nothing in between. I would like the manual trans & the V6 engine. But I don’t want all the fancy extras. Also, do all models come w/ bucket seats? I’m short, so if I move the bench forward, the passenger is squished.

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